I’ve been thinking about photography, cameras and gear a lot lately so I remembered a story my dad told at a family gathering about my first photo. I don’t quite remember what perpetuated this fatherly quip but there’s always some competition in my family and my dad always looks for opportunities to jab at my siblings. Maybe it was John, my 4 year old nephew mashing the shutter button on a camera, who knows.
Anyway, my dad said, “James is a better photographer, he has been since he was three. We were on a canoe trip and I was snapping photos and he insisted that he take a picture. I set the focus and exposure, I don’t remember what kind of camera it was, probably the Minolta Hi-Matic, and gave it to him. He was pointing it off to the side and I yelled at him to center the image. He clicked the shutter and advanced the film. I got the prints back a few days later and expected to be cut in half or not even in the frame but it was actually a pretty good composition for a three year old.”
So I was at my parents house a few days ago and I decided to go look in the basement for the first photo I ever captured. Sure enough, it was tucked into an old photo album buried in a box of prints. I snapped a shot with my iPhone, then I realized my dad had a scanner so I decided to scan it.
I don’t really remember the trip or taking the photo but I do remember my dad telling me he took me canoeing on the Meramec because work was underway on a damn that would have turned the entire area into a reservoir and he wanted me to experience it before it was ruined. Luckily, the Sierra Club and other outdoorsy types stepped in and got the damn project canceled. This area is now one of my favorite places to canoe and camp and it could have been a giant lake for bass boats.
Anyway, this is the first photo I ever took, it was on the Meramec River in October of 1977, likely on my third birthday.